Anonymous Group Claims Responsibility for Hacking White Estate, Challenges Trustees to Release Unpublished Manuscripts in Digital Form
by AT News Team
In a news release sent to Adventist Today, a group calling itself “SDAanonymous” has claimed responsibility for hacking a secret web site maintained by the Ellen G. White Estate as alleged in a lawsuit filed in August by the Estate. The group claims that a decision was made by the Estate at some point between 1995 and 2001 to publish all of the previously unpublished letters and manuscripts by White in a CD-ROM and that this set of digital files was ready for publication in 2002. It quotes from a book published with the authorization of the Estate in 1998.
The news release states that negotiations have already been exchanged by the White Estate lawyers and representatives of the group. Earlier in August, the White Estate attempted to initiate legal action in Australia. A counter offer was made to the White Estate offering to settle the litigation if the CD-ROM of the unpublished materials was released “by the end of 2012.”
The statement argues that under United States copyright law all of White’s unpublished material came into “public domain” outside of copyright protection on January 1, 2003. It says that Brendan Knudson, the only individual identified in the lawsuit, has not been served and lives outside of the jurisdiction of U.S. courts. The group expects the court to dismiss the lawsuit due to this lack of jurisdiction.
The group claims that an employee of the White Estate first revealed to them the online location of the full collection of unpublished letters and manuscripts and that it accessed these through a backdoor, not through breaking into the server. It also charges that a mistaken attempt by a private detective working for a White Estate lawyer to serve papers on Brendan Knudson caused “considerable distress” to “Brendan’s autistic brother.”
The document accuses the White Estate of seeking to control the interpretation of White’s writings instead of serving as trustees of the materials as specified in her will. It also charges the Estate with “disobedience to the writings they claim to uphold” because of the litigation it has filed. Statements by Ellen White warning against lawsuits among church members are quoted from pages 302 and 303 of Selected Messages, Volume 3.
According to the news release SDAanonymous is “a group of several dozen Seventh-day Adventists from all over the world [including] 13 nationalities and can be found on all the major continents.” It says that some are employees of Adventist institutions, while others are students. Knudson is specifically identified as the only person in the group who is not a member of the denomination. It says that he volunteered to be the person to which the online activity could be traced in order to protect the others from church discipline.